The Giants started this past week off with two miserable losses at the hands of the New York Mets (themselves a mess). This was coming off a weekend drubbing in Cincinnati, and it also involved the news that super-expensive closer/savior Mark Melancon was hurt (a 10 day DL stint with an elbow issue).
It is not hard to say this was the low point in the season.
And it lended itself to the ongoing conversation about what was the most surprising/disappointing element of the season thus far:
- The injuries? Consider the Giants lost to DL time already: Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Brandon Crawford, Will Smith, Denard Span, and Jarrod Parker. Not to mention Aaron Hill and Michael Morse.
- The timing of the injuries: Posey getting beaned on the head during the home opener. Madison Bumargner getting hurt on a dirt bike during a short road trip. Jarrod Parker getting hurt running into a wall. Both Crawford and Melancon gowing down after tough loses (literally adding injury to insult).
- The horrendous nature of LF. One of the answers to LF is now out of baseball (Chris Marrero), and the lot of blokes trotted out there already has been amazing and laughable.
- The maddening inconsistency of the starting pitching (especially Matt Moore and Jeff Samardzija who should know better).
- The ongoing woes of the bullpen. (Meanwhile Santiago Casilla was putting together a nice little season on the other side of the Bay).
- The feckless performance and weird nature of the lineups Bruce Bochy has been cobbling together.
Whatever it was that topped your list, Tuesday May 9th was a dark day.
Then the Giants went out and won on Wednesday. And they won in a totally 2017 Giants way. The game was inappropriately close for a long time, only broken open in the top of the 9th by Christian Arroyo (bases clearing double!), who hasn’t set the world on fire but certainly has a sense of timing sorely lacking by the rest of this team.
The Giants gave Derek Law a very comfortable first save opportunity, an opportunity he nearly blew, but hey, a 6-5 win is still a win.
The Giants then returned home and summarily lost the opener of another series with the Reds, 3-2, a game “blown” by the bullpen.
But then some things started to turn around. The news on Mark Melancon wasn’t so bad. Brandon Crawford and Denard Span returned from the DL. Even Santiago Casilla blew a save for the A’s in a totally Santiago Casilla way.
It is probably too much to read into this, and the next two weeks could easily seal the Giants’ fate as a bad team, but there was something to that 17 inning game on Friday night.
When Buster Posey hit the game winning walk off home run he reacted in a very un-Buster like manner: his shrug of relief felt bigger than the moment itself. It felt like “screw this sucking we’ve been doing, we’re better than this.” Certainly it was relief after squatting for 17 innings, but, again it looked cathartic beyond even the context of that particular game. Who can know.
What we do know is the Giants backed that win up with two more victories, for the first 3 game win streak of the year (a damning statement in and of itself).
So what do we make of this, if anything?
First, the is the closest thing the Giants have had to their “real” lineup in a while (I know Pence has been out, but I said close). In particular, Denard Span has returned like a man on a mission. We all love the results, but he just looks better/happier/livelier.
Second, the Giants got 3 straight quality starts (including 2 from Moore and Samardzija).
Third, they hit some home runs (PTL!).
Fourth, the bullpen was quietly outstanding all weekend.
Finally, they made a few plays with the gloves as well.
I wrote this earlier in the year: winning always makes a baseball team look more energetic, but it certainly feels like that 17 inning game injected new life into this club in a paradoxical way.
Who knows what lies ahead? The next two weeks are full of good teams and tough match ups. This week alone is the Dodgers and Cardinals, two long time nemeses who will not show the least bit of mercy. This week could bring more positive vibes. It could just as easily bring an 0-6 disaster.
One can hope the Giants are able to win two series. 4-2 would put them at 19-26. If they can follow that up next week by splitting with the Cubs and winning the series over Atlanta they’d be 23-28.
If they are going to make 2017 a competitive year, they need to be .500 by July 1. That’s what we all need to hope for at this point.